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Ex-Rebel Amundson named NBA D-League’s top rookie

Considering how disappointingly the basketball season began for Louis Amundson, the former UNLV star forward is thrilled with the way it’s ending.

One of the last players cut by the Sacramento Kings and forced to begin the season in the minors, Amundson is finishing the season with the Philadelphia 76ers. In between, the 6-foot-9-inch Amundson had a productive year playing in the NBA Development League for the Colorado 14ers and ultimately getting a chance to play on the big stage, first with the Utah Jazz, then with the Sixers.

It has been a memorable week for Amundson. On Sunday, he scored his first points in the NBA, making 1 of 2 free throws against Atlanta. On Tuesday, he was named the D-League’s Rookie of the Year.

“I was surprised,” he said Wednesday from Boston, where the 76ers faced the Celtics. “I only averaged 25 minutes while I was there (in Colorado), but I tried to make the most of the minutes I got, and it’s nice that the coaches thought enough of me to vote for me.”

In 25 games with the 14ers, Amundson led the team in blocked shots (2.5 a game) and averaged 11.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. Colorado was 19-6 with Amundson in the lineup.

“Louis was an integral part of our team and the success we had in our inaugural season,” 14ers coach Joe Wolf said. “His personal development and the success of our team allowed him to be signed for the rest of the season, and that’s what this league is all about.”

The 76ers signed Amundson for the remainder of the season March 28. He played a career-high 14 minutes against the Hawks, then had two points, two rebounds and a blocked shot Tuesday in Philadelphia’s 90-86 win over Indiana. He has appeared in five games and has three points, all from the line, and five rebounds.

Amundson said he never envisioned his first NBA points coming from the foul line.

“No,” he said with a laugh. “But Kyle Korver told me his first NBA points came from the line, too.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far. The Philly fans are very passionate. If you work hard, they appreciate the effort.

“I’ve been adjusting my game to try to get more comfortable. But it’s fun to be part of something you’ve watched your whole life. It’s a dream come true.”

Sixers president Billy King said of Amundson’s D-League honor, “It’s a testament to his hard work and dedication that he has earned this award and a spot on our roster.”

The 76ers have picked up the option on Amundson for next season. He is expected to be on the team’s roster for the Vegas Summer League in July.

“It’s nice for them to have me,” Amundson said. “But it really doesn’t change anything how I’ll prepare for next season. I’ll work as hard as I can. I think I’ve proved I can play at this level, and I think I’ve shown people around the league, too.”

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